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Old Money in Morris County

By Linda Tancs

During The Gilded Age, a series of grandiose mansions owned by the wealthiest Americans found their place among pastoral settings in Morris County, New Jersey. One famous couple, in fact, built dueling mansions owing to their inability to warm up to one dwelling or the other. That duo was Marcellus Hartley Dodge (heir to the Phelps Dodge fortune) and Geraldine Rockefeller (niece of Standard Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller), the richest couple in the nation. Her property, Giralda Farms, was a private estate when she purchased it in 1916 and represents one of the largest remaining tracts of open space in southeastern Morris County. Once a corporate park, it’s now preserved for public use through funding as the new 136-acre Giralda Farms Preserve at Loantaka Brook Reservation. The site includes a 1.2 mile network of hiking and off-road biking trails, meadows and hardwood wetlands and uplands, carriage trails, specimen trees and a pond. This weekend brings a music and arts festival to the site on Sunday featuring the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

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